Aruba, December 20, 2019 – Retail sales fell in November with shoppers keeping a tight grip on spending amid uncertainty about Brexit and ahead of December’s election.

Monthly retail sales fell by 0.6% in November, the fourth month in a row without growth, the Office for National Statistics said.

“All main sectors saw their sales fall with the exception of food stores,” ONS statistician Rhian Murphy said.

The data doesn’t include Black Friday sales. Black Friday fell on 29 November this year, outside of the ONS reporting period for the month, which ended on 23 November.

However the ONS said it had adjusted for where in the calendar Black Friday discounting fell when calculating its year-on-year analysis.

That figure showed growth of 1% to November, the weakest annual growth since April 2018 and much lower than the 2.1% rate economists had predicted.

“At face value, November’s further drop in retail sales is pretty concerning,” said Thomas Pugh, UK economist at consultancy Capital Economics.

Even if Black Friday ended up having a bigger effect than the ONS is calculating, he predicted this was “not a very merry Christmas for retailers”.

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